3 Local Deaths Attributed to Shoveling Snow

Three local deaths have been attributed to the blizzard, including the death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Officer Vernon Alston, 44, suffered a heart attack Saturday while shoveling snow at his home in Delaware, a spokesperson for the chief's office said. Alston joined the force in 1996 and most recently served with the House Division.

"The death of Officer Alston is truly a tragic loss for the Alston family and the United States Capitol Police, which in fact is one in the same," said Chief of Police Kim Dine said in a statement Sunday. "Officer Alston was someone who loved his job, and his loss leaves a huge void in the hearts of all of the men and women at the USCP."

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, expressed sadness over Alston’s passing and sympathy for his family.

"I'm saddened to learn that the U.S. Capitol Police has lost one of our own over the weekend as a result of the storm. For twenty years Officer Vernon Alston was a fixture on the Capitol grounds while keeping the community safe. I am always grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of the Capitol Police force and Officer Alston was an exemplar of that. My thoughts are with Officer Alston's family during this difficult time."

According to Politico, Alston was taken to Kent County Hospital, in Dover, Delaware, where he died.

An 82-year-old man died of an apparent heart attack while shoveling snow Sunday afternoon, police said. An officer responding to a report of a man down in the 3200 block of Fort Lincoln Drive NE found a man unconscious and not breathing. The officer attempted CPR until D.C. Fire and EMS arrived.

In Fort Washington, Maryland, Saturday morning, a 60-year-old man collapsed while shoveling snow, according to the Prince George's County Fire Department.

Spokesman Mark Brady tweeted about the death shortly after his account (@PGFDPIO) released information about the dangers of shoveling snow for people who may not be physically prepared for the effort.


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The winter storm produced enough snow that clearing sidewalks, driveways and other areas is a challenge, especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone over the age of 50.

Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts, and take frequent breaks.

Cold temperatures also will affect a person’s health when shoveling. They will exert high energy when shoveling, which will make them breathe harder and more often.

Deep and frequent breathing will result in inhaling colder air that will constrict the lungs and airways, making the exchange of oxygen into the bloodstream difficult.

If someone experiences signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which include, chest pains, difficulty breathing, heaviness on the chest, numbness in the neck and left arm, call 911 immediately.

At least 29 people in the eastern U.S. have died as a result of the mammoth snowstorm. The deaths occurred in car accidents and from carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to heart attacks while shoveling snow.

The number of storm-related deaths in Virginia has risen to five. A man was killed Saturday in a single-vehicle crash in Virginia Beach that police blamed on speed and icy road conditions, and Virginia Tech filmmaker Jerry Scheeler died Friday while shoveling snow outside his new house in Daleville, local news media reported Sunday. On Saturday, the state medical examiner's office confirmed three other storm deaths. They included a single-vehicle crash in Chesapeake and deaths in Hampton and southwest Virginia from hypothermia.

A 49-year-old man suffered cardiac arrest while shoveling in Abingdon, Maryland, Saturday, County Executive Barry Glassman said Sunday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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